Virginia Democrats are set to be in the majority in the House of Delegates and State Senate when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
It’s not going to be a fun next two years for one-time Republican presidential aspirant Glenn Youngkin.
“Today, we are proud to kick off what we are sure will be a session that moves Virginia forward,” incoming House Speaker Don Scott said in a statement in a news release from Virginia Dems announcing their 2024 legislative agenda.
“I am especially glad to see the resolution to start the process of codifying the automatic restoration of rights. With this, we are sending a message that there is no room for the spirit of Jim Crow that has plagued our Commonwealth for far too long.”
The automatic restoration of voting rights is one point of focus for Democrats, in the wake of reports last month that the Youngkin administration had illegally removed more than 3,400 Virginia voters who’d had their rights restored from the voting rolls supposedly because of a software issue.
The big one in the Monday rollout would be abortion rights, which is, as you know, what the 2023 state midterms turned on, after Youngkin, rather foolishly, decided to sink $1.4 million into a TV ad blitz to make the legislative elections a referendum on his push for abortion restrictions.
House Majority Leader Charniele Herring and State Sen. Jennifer Boysko have introduced constitutional amendments in their respective chambers to protect the “Fundamental Right to Reproductive Freedom,” from the styling of the amendment.
“Throughout the campaign cycle we told Virginians that a Democratic majority meant that abortion access would be protected in the Commonwealth. Today, that reigns true,” Herring said. “Our resolution will begin the process of amending our constitution to protect reproductive rights in Virginia, building on the work that I and Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan started many years ago. It has become all too clear that without constitutional protection, access to reproductive healthcare is at risk for the Commonwealth.”
Two other bills that will get pushes from Democrats: one proposing an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2026, and a second to institute a ban on AR-15 style assault firearms and certain ammunition feeding devices.
The Republican Party of Virginia issued a lengthy statement that reads as an attempt to relitigate the election that Republicans just lost.
“Today, after running an entire campaign on ‘maintaining the status quo,’ Virginia Democrats introduced a slate of radical bills that would upend existing law and turn our Commonwealth into a failed left-wing state like California or New York,” the statement began, before lurching into lies that Republicans have failed to turn into facts about supposed “unrestricted late-term abortion-on-demand,” the proposed increase in the minimum wage being among “failed experiments in other states have cost millions of jobs and hampered growth,” and the ban on assault rifles being part of “a broader effort by national Democrats to take away the right of the American people to protect themselves.”
“This radical slate of bills is more proof that Democrats have no interest in serving the people of Virginia – they are only concerned with appeasing their far-left activist base and ultra-rich donors,” the RPV said in its statement.
Ahem, reproductive freedom primarily affects low-income women, the increase in the minimum wage impacts, well, that one is obvious, and getting AR-15s off the streets helps everybody, even far-right activists and ultra-rich Republican donors.
“Virginia voters sent a message on Nov. 7 that they want Virginia to remain an open and welcoming state that honors individual freedom, privacy and economic opportunity for all of its residents. These four measures will help make Virginia the best state in America to raise a family and start a business,” Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said.
“The voters spoke loud and clear about what they didn’t want to see regarding legislation from their elected officials in November,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said. The Senate Democratic Caucus looks forward to continuing our work with the House Democratic Caucus to get common sense solutions passed out of both chambers and send it to the Governor. We are eager and ready to get to work to finish what we started years ago.”